You can go windsurfing, you can go swimming, you can take a stroll, eat seafood or dishes prepared with special herbs. You can do it all in Alacati, a little town near the Turkish city of Izmir.
There is a cafe called Alacati Cafe in Istanbul, but just as there are Istanbul Kebab houses in the midst of Berlin, you shouldn’t let that confuse you. The real Alacati town is in Izmir’s Cesme district on the Aegean Sea, in western Turkey.
In 2019, there were 169,736 arrivals by foreign nationals to Izmir through Cesme sea port, and 174,379 departures, which is a record. Add to that local tourists and foreign tourists coming in through Istanbul, and the actual number is much higher.
Alacati is a small town in winter time, with a population of around 10,000 year-round residents. In the summer, though, it becomes a different story. One of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey, Alacati bustles with activity starting in spring, hosting thousands of tourists in small stone houses converted into boutique hotels.
Alacati is famous for its mild weather, which is 13 to 15C in the winter, and in the thirties in the summer. Its strong winds make it an ideal spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing, yet it is shallow enough that even beginners feel safe taking a spin in the blue green waters.
Getting to Alacati requires a few steps, but once you get there, it will be all worth it! From Istanbul airports you first need to fly for an hour to Izmir’s Adnan Menderes airport. From there, you can take a bus or taxi to Cesme. Once you get to Cesme bus station, you can then board a minibus that will take you to Alacati.
The boutique hotels in Alacati are beautifully furnished and cosy, with hoteliers, usually escapees from big city life, friendly and hospitable. Expect to pay somewhere around $25-50 during the off season at the lower end of the scale, especially if your hotel is not right by the sea (there are shuttles that take you to the beaches on a regular schedule). In the high season, prices can be around $50-75 per night.
Food in Alacati is also a delight. Alacati has fresh seafood, deliciously grilled, stewed, or served chilled in olive oil. In April, there is the Herb Festival, which brings to the fore many fresh herbs that grow locally and are used in dishes special to the area. Then there are ice cream, cookies and coffee, all flavoured with mastic and all with a unique taste.
Alacati is definitely a destination worth visiting if you’re ever in Izmir, or even Turkey. Whether you go during the off-season or during the height of tourist season, you will surely find something that will make you happy you visited.